Paying for Education after High School
There’s no doubt about it, college can be costly, whether it’s completing a certificate program, skilled trades training, or a degree at a community college or university. However, there are distinct steps that can and need to be taken in order to access maximum amounts of Ca$h for College!
Financial aid makes college affordable by helping to close the gap between the total cost of college and what a family can manage to contribute. While there are many options for financial assistance, the first step is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Many students and parents or guardians may be unaware of the critical impact FAFSA can have on a student’s ability to attend college, and that all students should complete the application, regardless of their financial situation.
The FAFSA is offered through the U.S. Department of Education (fafsa.ed.gov) to ensure that all qualified students have access to federal government assistance for their postsecondary education needs. This aid includes Pell grants, subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans, work study and more. The FAFSA submission is also the mechanism used to determine eligibility for other aid, both merit- and needs-based state aid as well as institutional aid including scholarships and grants. Some of the funds are first come, first served, so the FAFSA should be completed as early as possible.
Every senior and current college student needs to file the FAFSA between October 1 and March 1. It usually takes about 30 minutes to complete. Parents AND students create an individualized FSA ID, which provides access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and serves as a legal signature for the document. This year, a new app provided by FSA makes the process quicker and easier to navigate and find answers to questions on a mobile phone!
After completing the FAFSA, the next steps focus on scholarship applications. For scholarships, look locally first! Most local scholarship opportunities can be accessed through one application with the Community Foundation for Oceana County. Visit their website at https://oceana-foundation.org/scholarships/. Over $360,000 is available to students in Oceana County. Applications are due by February 1.
For a comprehensive list of scholarships including more local, state and national opportunities, be sure to visit https://oceanacan.org/resources/financial-aid-and-scholarships/! The database found here is easily sortable, saving hours filtering through which scholarships a student is eligible for!
For additional ideas or more information or help with the process, contact local high school guidance counselors or college advisors, or call any college financial aid department. Oceana’s College Access Network has a wide variety of materials to aid in the search and decision-making; visit oceanacan.org or call 231-301-8210!